Samurai occupy the subway.
They guard the entrance and
stand at attention on the platforms.

My girlfriends and I pass by, giggling.
We’ve adopted Western wear, blue jeans
and silk thongs. For tops: sports bras.

The guys expect us to serve them.
The expect post-war sexual promiscuity
and pre-war sexual submission.

They expect us to suck their dicks and
to wash them, preferably twice, once before
and once after. They want to be handled gently.

Japanese boys are hard on the girls.
Hand-holding is forbidden in public,
as are signs of affection. No kissing.

We sit on opposite sides of the table, each
playing video games. I listen to J-pop.
He looks at porno. He loves S&M.

Last week, he took me to a love hotel.
We lay on a giant vibrating bed and played
in our private jacuzzi. He peed on me.

I would never invite him home. Mother
advised me not to tell my father. He’s
hired an agent to find me a husband.

My boyfriend is no good. Mother said his
salary is too low. Besides, he’s the second son.
He can’t inherit the family home.

I will kill myself with my boyfriend. I hope
my father finds us. There’s gas in the
parking garage. I’ll wear a new dress.

Comp 1

I’m raking leaves,
raking up the yard.
I’ve barely scratched
the surface. Some might
choose to do this high.
I’m as sober as a kidney
doctor. Straight as an arrow.
I’ve raked the leaves into a pile
as high as our old one-car garage.

What needs to be done is this.
I must take the leaves and build
a water-tight canoe, in which six
men might row across the Pacific.
The leaves will have to be selected
with care. They will be aligned and
glued with the expertise of men who
cut diamonds. This float will cross
the seas guided by our tears. If done
right, it will be ready as soon as I write
the ending.

Five Steps to Caring

The first step to caring
Can be expressed through
Gesture. Whip your hand out
And say, “I care. Do you?” Accuse
Your friend of caring less than you.
Tell him to care more. Tell her
You couldn’t care less. Say, “me.”

The second step to caring
Is to buy a kit, a care kit at Walmart.
That’s it. Place you care kit on your
Front porch. Now, go to your neighbor’s
And check to see if they have one, too.
If the kit’s not there, you’ll know they
Don’t care. You should shun them.

The third step to caring
Is to put a sticker on the back and front
Of your car. But that is not enough.
You have to remember to say you care.
Tell the person you have to fire how much
You care. Tell the person you don’t help
That you do care but not that way.

The fourth step to caring is to measure
The degree of caring you have. Say
I care but I want to know those I care about
Understand responsibility. Why bother caring
For those who don’t care about you? If you
Care a lot, and you know you do, tell those
You care about to build a monument to you.

The fifth step to caring is to remember that caring
Is not just about money. You might be throwing good
Money after bad. It is like giving a nickel to a wino.
It is better to spend that nickel on yourself.
Raise your tips at fine restaurants. Have a good meal.
When the garage attendant gives back the keys to your
BMW, remember to check for scratches.

Booked Up

We are a country without a text.
The English have their Shakespeare;
every child once knew some Homer.
Arabs read the Koran.
If it is not the Constitution, what is it?

We’ve stopped reading.
The movie theatres are all booked up.
The matinee is packed with devotees.
Some prefer to go at midnight.
Hollywood studios manage a cult.

Arabs drink their tea with dates.
I always take a date to the movies.
Americans cry when they don’t have a date
on Saturday night.
Arabs share theirs with their brothers.

I prefer the Egyptian Medjool.
I like my dates large and dry.
Saudis prefer theirs small and sticky.
They even smush them together to make
little cakes; I ate one filled with tiny worms.

We could all use a little prayer.
Ophelia isn’t the only lonely girl in the world.
It helps to remember Laertes’ advice.
It’s not true the Declaration of Independence
was only written for me.

For what you love you will want inside.
Open the book of yourself. Learn something
by heart. Think of Fahrenheit 451.
Those intriguing lines of Plato, once remembered,
can never be taken away.

Behind the Curtain

Where we keep our hens, sad memories of broken necks,
It made my father cringe to ring their necks,
But he laughed when he had to ring mine.

There was no pain, I promise you.
To admit pain was to suffer more.
What you had to do was promise not to cry, boohoo.

Some men are obsessed with their mothers. Not me.
I was into thwarting snails and slugs and making compost,
Always looking for something rotten.

I could write my name in the dust. Better stay
outside with the animals. Kept a pair of nylons
on my head, if I wanted to escape the heat.

Most of the answers came from Fred Montesi’s.
If I borrowed a quarter I could eat. My parents told me
to keep my black friend away from the windows.

If I could only find a private detective, he’d show me his;
I’d show him mine. It helps to drive a Maserati.
The cheetah sleeps but the Doberman won’t lie down.

He ran down Stockton vomiting, as the suspect got away.
The hang glider smashed my rival to smithereens;
and I rose to the top. Melvin Belli paid the bill.

The opera is and was the way in. Much depends on one’s lamb chops.
Once away from the aphids, the sophistication begins,
along with one’s thesis on Dashiell Hammett’s love life.

The boondoggle, that’s an American word, paves the way;
today it’s called a scholarship. It all leads to nowhere fast.
Believe me, failure packs a wallop.

It’s Irish coffee if you know the way.
A guided tour in a green Citroën. Painted ladies are the lure.
It’s all about location, location, location.


The lines appear.
Then faces, eventually.
One might call them memories.

Or is there only one, one dark script
Against a multiplicity? Dreams
accumulate, but do we have a variety of selves?

Dreams are tributaries, feeding
one dark river of the soul.
An Amazon of the mind, a Rio Negro,
flowing always in one direction,
towards our destruction.

A story of transgressions;
our avoidance of annihilation,
hoped for; missed.
Something peaceful, finally.

Davy Crockett’s Sorrows

When I was young,
boys went squirrel hunting
with their Daddies.

They got whipped for forgetting their pocket knives.
When the time came,
they had to choose between the belt
or the buckle.

Kids knew better than to say no.
Bologna tasted fine with a glass of milk and a side of
Cherry Jell-O. Why did they invent sushi?

There were porcupines in the backyards along with log
fires and common prayers. Who decided to outlaw family?
We can’t go back to yesterday, but we can refuse tomorrow.

Cash and Carry

It’s the middle class that celebrates congestion.
Millionaires prefer land.
The rich in America buy ranches; elsewhere: estates.
Our movie stars move to Montana. There’s a reason.
The rich know something we don’t know?
I doubt it.
We all secretly want to get out. We dream of escape.
Our hypocrisy is easy to see through.
Nobody wants to deal with the flow.
It’s a lie that we love the crowds.
The masses scare us; this is what explains Beverly Hills.

People need a way out. Humanity requires too much attention.
The floods send us running; we head for higher ground.
Nothing is more disheartening than a crowded beach.
We associate it with failure. Hot dogs lose their taste when
we look out on to a sea of people.
Suddenly the sight of flesh is a turn off. Fatty legs and
pink bellies are a fright. Tits become tits.
Massive muscles make men look like bulls.

The stink of our fellow man drives us on. One can’t wait to get
out. Turn up the radio and hit the road. Home sweet home becomes
an adventure. What an escape. Sartre was right; other people are Hell.
This is what’s behind capitalism; not greed. It’s
desperation. The dream of solitude. A deep, abiding, instinctive
recognition that little good can come from living too close to
others. Neighbors are great when they are far away.